Benjamin by wanghonghx


									    Walter Benjamin

The Work of Art in the Age of its
   Mechanical Reproduction
       Some Concepts
     Technology and culture
• C.P. Snow: The Two Cultures (1959)
  – Science vs Arts and humanities
• Digital media
  – Cultural technology
• Walter Benjamin
  – Principal theorist of the effect of technology
    on culture
     Conceptual background
• Superstructure: Culture (science, art,
• Substructure: Economy (work,
  production, market)
• Effect of substructure on superstructure
• Presence of the work itself in time and
• Unique existence at the place where it
  happens to be
• The presence of the original is the
  presupposition of the concept of
      Ways of reproduction
• Manual reproduction
  – Imitations, forgeries
  – Individual works
• Technical reproduction
  – Photography, film,
  – Mass production
       Contrasting qualities
• Original
  – Uniqueness and permanence
• Technical reproduction
  – Plurality and transitoriness
    “Aura” of the work of art
• What is left when the work is
  technologically reproduced
  – Presence of the work of art itself as a unique
    and authentic object
• Unique phenomenon of a distance,
  however close it may be ...
        Two types of values
• “Works of art are received and valued on
  different planes. Two polar types stand
  out; with one, the accent is on the cult
  value; with the other, on the exhibition
  value of the work.”
               Cult value
• The artwork as a precious object
• The existance of the work is more
  important than access and visibility
• Related to an older stage of society and
• Example: The Icon.
          Exhibition value
• The more that see the object/image, the
• Example: An advertisment
  Effect of mass reproduction
• Technical reproduction detaches the
  work of art from its traditional context
  and from traditional ways of seeing
• Introduces the image in any context and
  reactivates the object reproduced
• The “aura” vanishes
• Exhibition value takes precedence over
  cult value
 Technologically reproducible art
An art that is
  transmitted to the masses
  in the form of technologically produced works
     (either copies
     or works created by means of technological
  presented as a marchandise
  intended for consumption
Fulfills the same function in a new way
• Can many people enjoy the work
• Together or each in his own place with
  the same work?
• Two examples: paintings and films
•   Quiet contemplation
•   Association of ideas
•   Solitude
•   Reflective criticism
•   Concentration
• No time for contemplation because of the
• Striking effects
• The image imposes itself on the spectator
• Watch together with the mass
• Fusion of visual pleasure and reflective
• Amusement and consumption
  Social conditions of painting
• Related to an older stage of society (cf.
  frescoes, oil paintings)
• Cult value dominant
• Even open and democratic galleries do
  not change the way we look at paintings
          But architecture
• Utility and artistic value
• Nothing that corresponds to visual
  contemplation (of paintings) in
  architecture (public art)
     Film, photography and
• Show us what we are not conscious of
• Changes our visual perception
• Expands our ways of seeing things
  – close-up
  – slow-motion
  – blow-up
 Consuming art as amusement
• Art consumption in the form of
  amusement (contrary to Collingwood’s
  idea of art proper)
• Impact on the spectator/consumptor
• Not the quality of the work itself as an
• Related to the problematic of taste
      Art and ethics/politics
• Questions raised by the fascist
  aesthetication of politics
  – The aesthetics of war put the idea of art as
    an autonomous sphere in question
  – Relates it again to ethics and politics
  – There is no pure aesthetic
• Answered by the politisation of aesthetics
  by the communists (WB and Brecht)
• The Wagnerian Gesammtkunstwerk
  – Opera
  – Film
• The state as a total work of art
  – Hitler
  – Stalin

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